October 13, 2023 | FDD's Long War Journal

IDF prepares for ground offensive in Gaza

October 13, 2023 | FDD's Long War Journal

IDF prepares for ground offensive in Gaza

While the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continue to strike Hamas military targets across Gaza after the terror group’s brutal assault on southern Israel, the IDF is now preparing for a ground offensive. This morning, the IDF issued an order for all Palestinian civilians to leave northern Gaza, a clear indication that Israel troops will soon enter.

“The IDF calls for the evacuation of all civilians of Gaza City from their homes southwards for their own safety and protection and move to the area south of the Wadi Gaza,” the IDF announced in a press release.

“The Hamas terrorist organization waged a war against the State of Israel and Gaza City is an area where military operations take place. This evacuation is for your own safety,” the press release continued.

More than one million Palestinians are estimated to live in the area that the IDF recommended evacuation. It is unclear if Hamas will permit a mass evacuation.

In its press release, the IDF stated that it would “In the following days … continue to operate significantly in Gaza City.” The IDF called up 300,000 reservists after Hamas’ terror rampage in southern Israel that resulted in the death of more than 1,200 Israeli citizens and soldiers. More than 150 people are still missing, including foreigners, and are thought to have been captured and brought into Gaza.

One of the stated goals of the Israeli government is the complete defeat of Hamas as an entity. To do so, the IDF must enter Gaza to root out Hamas. Airstrikes and targeted raids would not be sufficient to deal Hamas a decisive blow. Once the ground operation is complete, it is likely that the IDF will allow Palestinian civilians to return to their homes, but only after intensive screenings. Military-aged males will be especially scrutinized.

The IDF had been preparing the battlefield in Gaza before ground forces enter a dense urban environment. Hamas is known to operate a maze of tunnels beneath Gaza, as well as numerous fortified positions, including bunkers, command centers and communications nodes.

The Israeli Air Force launched more than 750 strikes on Hamas targets overnight, “including underground Hamas terror tunnels, military compounds and posts, residences of senior terrorist operatives used as military command centers, weapons storage warehouses, comms rooms,” and other key terror operatives, according to the IDF.

A ground invasion of Gaza will likely be a bloody affair. Hamas and its allies launched an audacious and well executed attack that caught the Israeli military and its intelligence services off guard. The attack was plotted, organized and staged without detection. Hamas very likely has prepared for the possibility of an invasion, and given its recent innovations, will be well armed.

Joe Truzman is a research analyst focused primarily on Palestinian militant groups and Hezbollah at FDD and contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal. Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.


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